News 07 Sep 11

Romania Denies Hosting Secret CIA Prisons

Officials reject Council of Europe investigator's claim that Bucharest was an accomplice in CIA secret renditions from 2003 to 2005.

Marian Chiriac

Romania's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday denied hosting any secret CIA prisons, following comments by a Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner who said he had proof that such detention centres had existed.

“Such allegations are unreliable as there is no clear source of information to sustain them. Romania has no information about secret CIA detention centres, or about any abductions or transport of suspected extremists on Romanian airports,” it said.

Bucharest added that parliamentary inquiries on this subject made during 2005-2008 also uncovered no evidence in this respect.

On Monday, Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, said Romania had been an accomplice in CIA secret detentions and that prosecutors should investigate.

"Romania has been found complicit in CIA secret detentions," he said.

"A CIA Black Site was opened near Bucharest on 23 September 2003, immediately after the closure of the Polish facility. It is known that at least one of the 'high-value detainees' from Poland was delivered directly to Bucharest Airport in the middle of the night.

"CIA operations continued in Romania for over two years,” Hammarberg added.

"Unfortunately, Romanian authorities have demonstrated little genuine will to uncover the whole truth of what happened on Romanian territory. The only official response has been denial,” he continued.

Former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana also denied the allegations on Tuesday, saying there was "no information to sustain Mr Hammarbergs claims”.

Costin Georgescu, former head of Romania’s intelligence service, SRI, said that any CIA prison in Romania wuld have required approval from the country’s Supreme Defence Council, CSAT, but “no request was made in this respect”.

In 2007, a report by Swiss politician Dick Marty, also from the Council of Europe, accused the CIA of using a prison at the Black Sea air base at Mihail Kogalniceanu in eastern Romania.

Romania, a NATO member, is one of the US's strongest supporters among the ex-Communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Mihail Kogalniceanu airport became a major US military base in 2007, while in 2011 a former air base in Deveselu, in the south, become part of the US defence system in Europe, hosting interceptor missiles.

The Council of Europe is a 47-member group that promotes democracy and human rights on the continent.

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